Previously, we explored the fashion nude styling trend in the context of its origins with photographers like Helmut Newton and Steven Meisel, and what it adds to the marketing mix of fashion advertising.
We kept the scenes simple in order to focus our attention on the basic concepts of using fashion styles to strategically reveal parts of the model’s body to facilitate the “sex sells fashion” mantra.
Linking Emotion To Fashion
In this installment, we break free of those constraints. In fact, our focus is on “if there is a rule, it’s meant to be broken.”
Composition, lighting and posing “rules” are all out the window. This is not glamour photography, nor is it art modeling in the traditional sense. Except for the groundwork laid by the pioneers like Newton and Meisel , there are no traditions in fashion nude styling. Contemporary fashion nude likes to thumb its nose at tradition; the objective is to evoke a lifestyle concept that creates within the viewer an emotion that compels one to join the lifestyle or create her own.
By linking emotion to fashion, we strive to advance the premise that fashion merchandising can successfully include a measure of nudity.
Scenarios 1 -3: “Evolvement” As A Concept
The scenarios presented here evolved over time. There is not just one session, but three different scenes created on three different days, all with different objectives.
We used an increasingly complex range of sets, beginning with an old wagon wheel and very dramatic lighting. In the second set, we introduce what I like to call the “Forrest Gump Effect,” based on the famous line from the movie, “Life is like a box of chawlits; you never know what you’re gonna git.”
The Forrest Gump Effect has become something of a guiding principle for me and my team; going forward with this series of articles, we will strive to incorporate it into every image illustrating every topic we will explore in our journey into fashion nude styling and photography.
Finally, in the third set, we created a very eclectic fantasy world and in several frames used two models to tell a story. The idea here was to provide some context to the idea that fashion nude styling doesn’t always have to be gritty and hard-edged (as often practiced by Newton). We want to have fun, and we want you, our reader, to join in the fun.
Day 1, Series 1: Lines & Curves
In the first sequence, our model Rosa C. is lit very dramatically so as to concentrate our attention on her layers of clothing and her beautiful body – especially her breasts. The use of the wagon wheel was designed to build on the concept of “lines and curves.”
In the next sequence, we started with a sheer chiffon blouse from which she gradually disengaged.
I used a number of different editing /retouching techniques to demonstrate how changes in tone distribution can totally transform the ultimate effect. This is especially seen in the two B+W images that I made into high-contrast, high-key illustrations. You might also note that the lighting is quite different from the wagon wheel sequence.
Day 2, Series 2: Hieronymus Bosch Paid A Visit
In the second session, about a week later, we went with a more somber, introspective mood.
The mood was created by using color gradients (blues and greens), a different lighting style and very eclectic set elements – the upholstered settee, the skull, and the round wire-frame globe.
Rosa is draped in a silk scarf, strategically place to reveal only parts of her body as she peruses a book of Hieronymus Bosch illustrations.
The Forrest Gump effect is further developed by Rosa wearing combat boots with a decorative dagger at the ready. The somber mood is also enhanced by her expression and her body positioning in the next frame with the sword.
Forrest Gump is alive and well after a quick wardrobe change to a short black nightie, undone at the top to provide her with maximum movement as she plays her viola with the sword.
In the final frame from this session, Rosa has stripped down to black lace panties with a decorative fur belt to give some “bulk” to the overall image. She has positioned another skull (from her “bone box”, as she calls it) to serve as sort of a mask – again, concentrating our attention on her body as the central focal point of the composition.
Although Rosa’s body is quite athletic naturally, her pose here is designed to convey a sense of inner strength, and the peace that comes with the knowledge of that strength.
Day 3, Series 3: Fashion Without Fashion?
The third set, shot about three days later, was the most fun, not only because it provided us an opportunity to go “over the top” in set design, but also because Willa (who was featured in our last installment stopped by to add some excitement.
The set design used a corner of the studio and was built at an angle. By doing so, we created a sort of “theater in the round” effect that allowed me to move around and shoot at three different angles without having to reposition any of the set elements or the studio lights.
The different shooting angles used the stationary light positions in different ways; the net effect was to produce three very different story lines.
Where is the “fashion” in this fashion nude sequence, you might ask?
Aside from Willa’s panties (soon removed) and Rosa’s kimono, it might be said there is not much fashion involved. If this is your perception, you would be quite correct.
As I stated earlier, fashion nude photography is not about selling merchandise; it is about evoking a lifestyle that creates emotion.
It is the emotional part of our viewing experience that connects us to the stories being told, and perhaps create a spark within ourselves to invent our own lifestyle – which will no doubt include an element of fashion to bring it about.